University administrators respond to Saturday’s DMT arrests

In a meeting with campus media this evening, Todd Olson, university vice president of student affairs, and Julie Green Batialle, university spokesperson, revealed more details surrounding the DMT arrests in Harbin Hall last Saturday.

“The fact is it was a day that was confusing in many ways,” Olson said.

Olson and Bataille would not comment on any impending disciplinary actions against John Romano (COL ’14) and Charles Smith (SFS ’14), the residents of the ninth-floor Harbin Hall dorm room where Public Safety officers discovered a so-called “DMT lab” early Saturday morning.

At an arraignment hearing at the D.C. District Court this afternoon, Romano was released and relieved of all charges against him. Smith and John Perrone, a freshman at the University of Richmond, will be charged with “conspiracy to manufacture” and “possession with intent to distribute” and will be held without bail until at least Wednesday.

“The students are not on campus at this time,” Olson said. “We take matters like this very seriously.”

Shortly after 5 a.m. on Saturday, Department of Public Safety officers responding to a complaint about a strange odor discovered Romano, Smith, and Perrone in Harbin 926 with drug paraphenalia, chemicals, and other equipment. Although Olson confirmed that DPS officers responded to a strange odor, he would not comment on the possibility that authorities received a tip that drug sales took place in that room, too.

According to a sworn statement filed with the D.C. District Court, MPD and DPS officers “received information that there were individuals selling drugs” at the dorm room.

Olson also confirmed that the dormitory’s fire alarm system malfunctioned during the evacuation, as originally reported by Vox.

“During the first evacuation on Saturday morning, the audible alarm in the building did not sound,” he said. “Other parts did function and did report to DPS that there was a fire alarm going off in Harbin … but the fact is that the audible alarm did not sound.”

According to Bataille and DCFD Public Information Officer Pete Piringer, Harbin Hall passed an inspection by the D.C. Fire Marshall’s Office earlier today.

“We’ve had technicians looking at that and have assured us now that that it was a one time problem,” Olson added.

The fire alarm system malfunction was not the day’s only misfire, however. At 9:19 a.m., Harbin residents received permission to re-enter the dormitory, only to be re-evacuated at approximately 9:30 a.m. on the advice of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Early media reports also suggested the students were producing methamphetamine misrepresented University officials’ statements, according to Olson.

“What actually got reported was different,” he said. “We always qualified [conversations about methamphetamine production] with ‘alleged.'”

And although Olson wrote that “there was never a health risk to students in Harbin,” GERMS spokesperson Mary Jane Reen (COL ’11) told Vox that GERMS transported two people to Georgetown University Hospital “as part of the response.” Olson did not explain the disparity between his comments and the GERMS report.

“There were a number of steps taken quickly to try and make life comfortable for students,” he said. “The fact is it was a day that was confusing in many ways.”

Olson also explained why the University failed to use the HOYAlert system to notify students of the emergency. Because the evacuation was specific to Harbin Hall, he claimed, the University did not need to use its emergency response system.

“It was clear to us from all the guidance we were getting that there was not a threat to the broader community,” Olson said. “The decision was made to focus our efforts with those students in Harbin and update the University community about the whole matter later on, as we did.”

During the meeting, Olson didn’t rule out potential consequences for other Harbin residents who were found to possess prohibited items, such as illegal drugs, during the evacuation.

“I would not rule that out if there were illegal drugs found in other places,” he said. “When there are legitimate reasons to search the residence hall space or some other purpose, and illegal drugs are found, that can lead to student conduct action.”

16 Comments on “University administrators respond to Saturday’s DMT arrests

  1. There is a threat to the broader community. Hoyas should not narc on other Hoyas. University informants handing over our students to D.C. Metro Police is outrageous. The outside authorities are, to put it mildly, not well disposed to Georgetown and its students, and we have long had in place Student Conduct actions as alternative means of handling problems inside the family, without involving those who would ruin the lives of our fellow Hoyas to curry favor with others.

    In my days on the Hilltop, Metro Police arrested a 20 year-old after he carried a case of beer that his 21 year-old girlfriend just bought up the Exorcist Steps. Who knows whether things will get even worse as the political climate changes in D.C. Georgetown students are appealing targets, and if we do not hang together, surely we will hang separately.

    I say this not just in homage to the big wad of Benjamins allegedly found in Smith’s dorm room, but also to inquire: Why do you look at the speck in thy brother’s eye, but fail to consider the beam that is in thine own fucking eye? Who among us can countenance a Georgetown with true law and order “Justice”? Imagine if every Hoya were arrested for every crime he or she committed while on campus, including but not limited to, the underage possession or consumption of alcohol or other controlled substances, furnishing alcohol for minors, hosting underage drinking parties, possession of fake IDs, and having sexual relations with someone too intoxicated. Outrageous!

  2. Izzo,

    The reason is that a drug lab can be dangerous. Because the authorities (meaning DPS) were unaware that this was a DMT lab and they thought it was a meth lab, they needed to evacuate the building quickly because, as I’m sure you know, meth labs frequently explode. This process involved MPD because DPS is not trained to dismantle drug labs. Neither is MPD, which is why the DEA became involved.

    The idea that “Hoyas should not narc on other Hoyas” is absurd, especially when the situation is dangerous for others. If I suspect my neighbor has a drug lab, you bet your ass I’m calling DPS AND MPD directly. Otherwise, if it had been a meth lab and it exploded, everyone would be lamenting the fact that MPD and the DEA didn’t get there sooner. I don’t think anyone, you included, would have accepted “Hoyas don’t narc on other Hoyas to the Feds” as an appropriate excuse. Pardon my language, but get your head out of your ass.

  3. @Dumbass – This is precisely why RA fire safety inspections are important, and residents should not be permitted to use candles, incense, or hot pots in the dorm.

  4. That doesn’t address my argument that students shouldn’t be discouraged from calling DPS, MPD, DEA, or the super-galactic police force if they suspect someone in their freshman dorm is manufacturing drugs.

  5. why is the administration saying DPS reported to “unusual smell” but the police report is saying they responded to reports of drugs being sold?

  6. @k – My unsubstantiated speculation is that some Judas told the authorities about the King of DMT, and they initially made up the bit about “unusual smells” because they didn’t want to refer to their reliance on a confidential informant. A police officer can justify a search whenever he claims to detect the “odor of marijuana.”

  7. I believe it is – DPS responds to smell, MPD responds to DPS (reports)…

  8. @Izzo

    I fail to see why you find so much fault in someone “snitching,” as opposed to finding fault with “manufacturing illegal drugs with highly explosive and flammable materials in a populated residence hall.”

  9. This drug is in a ‘grey area’. You don’t get strange smells when you extract DMT from plants. It isn’t explosive. Everyone’s brains produce DMT when they sleep. It’s theorized that it floods your brain at the time of birth.

    You have to smoke it to get a smell.

  10. @ Izzo

    You are perhaps the most dangerous kind of idiot. You go to a prestigious institution, you clearly have no common sense, and a sort of twisted view of reality, but you know how to throw in just enough misappropriated cultural and literary references that you could feasibly convince some clueless people that you’re right.

    I worry for your future.

  11. Hey Georgetown, STOP SNITCHING! People are likely getting date raped every weekend under the influence of alcohol, and y’all’re worried about some drug that lasts five minutes, poses no risk of addiction, and doesn’t even lower your inhibitions?

    And by the way, a “DMT lab” does not pose the same risk of explosion as a meth lab. Get your drug labs straight.

  12. @J, Dr Olsen made it clear several times that those students never put anyone else at risk. This is due to the fact that their materials were not capable of exploding or causing any other sort of harm to other people. Washing detergent and hair spray, which are chemicals often found in dorm rooms, do have the capacity to catch fire and endanger others. Shall we arrest everyone with those items as well?

    Here’s my point: a lot of people pretend to be upset about safety, when really they’re just upset about breaking an arbitrary law, which defines some substances as off-limits, and allows other far more dangerous substances to go unchecked or at least somewhat regulated. It’s not narc-ing if you’re actually concerned about someone’s safety. It is narc-ing if you’re just turning someone in for breaking a rule. All of us break the rules.

  13. everyone’s talking as if students knew it was a DMT lab and not a meth lab or something more dangerous. it took the police a couple of hours to determine it was a DMT lab and not a meth lab-how were students supposed to know their lives weren’t in danger?

  14. Pingback: Network Technologies and Society (Fall 2010) » Evolving Technology: Missing Zeus’s Lightning Bolts

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